It’s 4pm and I’ve just returned from my first day of skiing in Revelstoke. I hobble to the sofa and gently lower myself onto the cushions. This is accompanied by some strained groaning sounds, as muscles I didn’t even know I had are hurting. I realise that this is where I’ll be staying for the rest of the evening. Revelstoke has broken me on my first day of the trip.
Revelstoke Mountain Resort is a relatively new ski resort, having only been established around 12 years ago. In that time, it has already gained a reputation as one of the toughest yet rewarding ski destinations. The Revelstoke ski hill offers the longest vertical in North America at over 1,700 metres. Which probably explains the intense burning sensation in my legs.
SKIING & SNOWBOARDING IN REVELSTOKE
Revelstoke resort has over 3,000 acres of incredibly varied skiable terrain. Yet there is a comparatively low number of lifts and defined trails, primarily due to the newness of the resort. This is what makes Revelstoke an adventurer’s playground. You may have to do some hiking, traversing and touring to seek out the best lines. But the reward is huge.
It follows that the Revelstoke ski area is not for the faint-hearted. Although there has been a recent effort to make the mountain more accessible to beginners and families, the skiing for these groups is still relatively limited. This is likely to change over the next few years. But for now, it remains a place for strong intermediate and advanced skiers.
Just make sure you’re fighting fit and in good shape before attempting to conquer Revelstoke. Or you’ll end up like me – a broken human after just five hours of skiing.
REVELSTOKE SKI TOURING AND BACKCOUNTRY
Where Revelstoke excels above other ski resorts is in its astounding offering to thrill-seeking skiers and snowboarders. You won’t be short of challenging tree runs or vast backcountry skiing.
By far the best way to really make the most of the incredible backcountry skiing in Revelstoke is by ski touring. It’s the perfect way to explore what Revelstoke has to offer and get a real feel for the mountain. There are seemingly endless opportunities for the freshest, fluffiest, ‘skiing-on-air’ type powder. It is absolutely dreamy.
Of course, if you can afford it, then Revelstoke is the capital of heli skiing. For those untouched lines without the effort of ski touring, look no further than Eagle Pass Heliski or Selkirk Tangiers Heli Skiing. If the weather doesn’t allow for heli skiing, then there’s always the option of cat skiing too.
SNOW CONDITIONS AND WEATHER IN REVELSTOKE
The snow conditions are what really sets Revelstoke apart from other ski destinations. The mountain is graced with more snow than most other North American resorts, making it a powder paradise.
The only downside to the volume of snow is that the snow on the groomed runs can become quite churned up. On the steep runs (and the majority are steep), this makes it particularly challenging on your legs, and difficult for less confident skiers. I had to take regular stops on these runs, just to give my failing quad muscles a little pep talk.
But the powder really comes into its own on the off piste runs. It’s why Revelstoke is best suited to more proficient skiers and unforgiving to less accomplished skiers (or for those of us not in our best shape).
Revelstoke mountain weather is mostly cloudy and snowy. Bluebird days are rare – though I was lucky to get one when we went ski touring. If you’re a fair weather skier then Revelstoke may not be the destination for you. But if you’re in it for the powder, then day after day of blue sky and sunshine is probably something you’re willing to sacrifice.
Leave your carving skis at home, you need powder skis in Revelstoke. I used Revelstoke Powder Rentals for my ski equipment. I have my own ski boots and I hired the following:
- Powder skis
- Ski poles
- Touring skis and skins
- Ski touring boots
- Rucksack for backcountry equipment
- Avalanche safety gear:
- Extendable shovel
- Avalanche transceiver
- Avalanche probe
I highly recommend their friendly service and high quality ski rental gear.
My powder skis were just perfect and it was also a joy to have touring skins which were super grippy, even when wet and used. Find them at 709B Victoria Road West in Revelstoke.
Mountain aside, Revelstoke itself is a small town that offers a very different experience to the more established ski towns. It’s very much a working town, with more locals than tourists, which gives Revelstoke its own unique charm. Not the kind of pretty charm found in other ski towns, but more of an authentic, community-driven charm.
Residential streets are lined with cute, pastel coloured houses and framed with big white snow banks. Locals are all incredibly friendly and welcoming. It’s easy for Revelstoke to soon feel like a home from home.
DINING IN REVELSTOKE
There is actually an impressive offering of restaurants, bars and shops depsite the small size of the town. Although it is worth mentioning that the town is a short distance from the resort where the gondola is located. It’s not walkable, but it’s only a very short drive and they run regular shuttle buses.
Luckily, there are a handful of nice spots at the base of the main gondola. So you don’t have to venture far with your weary legs after a day on the slopes. A particular favourite of mine was The Rockford, which offers an array of Asian inspired cuisine and lovely, chatty staff. There’s also La Baguette, a welcoming cafe serving fresh sandwiches and homemade gelato.
In terms of food and drink offerings up the mountain, options are relatively limited in comparison to other larger resorts, particularly those in Europe. There are two restaurants which offer a variety of food and drink. I highly recommend a burger from Mackenzie Outpost – it put a big grin back on my face after I’d started to get a bit whiny with my aching muscles and cold body.
HOW TO GET TO REVELSTOKE
One downside of visiting Revelstoke is that it’s pretty remote. It’s not the easiest resort to get to, but that also means that it’s quieter and not overrun with tourists. Personally, I’d take a longer journey and uncluttered slopes over a shorter journey and hectic slopes any day.
If you’re travelling from the UK, I’d recommend flying to Calgary airport. You then have a few options:
- Get a bus transfer. This is what I did and I’d highly recommend it. Busbud run a transfer from Calgary to Revelstoke and it takes about six hours. It’s a long journey but the route is absolutely stunning, plus there’s free WiFi. There’s only one coach per day so it does mean that you’ll probably have to stay in Calgary for two nights. From £58 each way.
- Hire a car. If you’ll be staying in Revelstoke for a fair bit of time, or you’re planning some road trips, then hiring a car is a great option. Be aware that you may get stuck in lengthy traffic jams due to the prevalence of avalanches onto the highway, so keep an eye on the traffic reports. Best to book your rental car in advance. From £16 per day.
- Ridesharing. Due to the lack of options available to people travelling to and from Revelstoke, there are lots of other people in the same boat. Join the Facebook group Revelstoke Rideshare, where you may be able to hitch a ride with someone already driving in your direction. Cost will simply involve petrol contribution.
Tip: If you’re travelling to Canada for the first time then you’ll need to apply for an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA). You can do this on the Candian Government website and it costs just $7. Mine was approved instantly, but best to do it at least a week in advance, just in case.
WHERE TO STAY IN REVELSTOKE
There isn’t a particularly extensive offering of hotels in Revelstoke. I was lucky enough to stay at the Sutton Place Hotel in Revelstoke, which is situated right at the base of the mountain.
The Sutton Place accommodation offers a ski-in ski-out experience, which is perfect for those who prefer to avoid dragging ski equipment any considerable distance.
You are welcomed by friendly staff in a beautiful hotel lobby, with a large and inviting fireplace. Help yourself to a hot drink at any time of the day, or enjoy complimentary cheese and wine in happy hour.
I had a two-bed, two-bathroom apartment on the 8th floor, with gorgeous views onto the slopes and gondola. Apartments are fitted with a large kitchen and boast large balconies. The fireplace was my favourite feature – a warm, comforting fire is the perfect way to be greeted after a day on the slopes.
The hotel also offers spa facilities, including an outdoor heated pool, outdoor hot tubs, a gym, plus an indoor hot tub with stunning views over the mountains.
The skiing I did in Revelstoke was by far the most challenging skiing I have ever done. The mountain is tough and unforgiving but I’ve never felt such a buzz from my favourite sport. With such fantastically varied terrain, I feel like my skiing improved considerably in the three days of skiing I did.
If you live for powder skiing, if you want inviting backcountry and if you want adrenaline-fuelled skiing, then drop what you’re doing and make your way to Revelstoke. My body needs a breather but I cannot wait to return in the near future and see how this amazing ski resort has progressed.
A big thank you to Revelstoke Mountain Resort for welcoming me to Revelstoke and providing a lift pass. Another huge thank you to Sutton Place Hotel for accommodating me and to Revelstoke Powder Rentals for my ski equipment.
My accommodation, lift pass and ski rental were gifted but all views in this post are entirely my own.